By, Jim Knepper
While it may sound daunting or a bit difficult to do, cooking on a wood fire at your home is probably easier than you think! In fact, there have never been more options than there are today for you to easily and with minimal effort, enjoy that same wood fired taste that’s so popular with restaurants in your own kitchen! Well…you wouldn’t want to start a wood fire in your kitchen (unless you’re lucky enough to have it properly equipped)…so here are some pointers on how to get ‘er done!
Without question the easiest way to accomplish this is to purchase a Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker which are available from a variety of manufacturers in all kinds of shapes and sizes! Wood pellet grills use 100% (food grade) wood pellets with no glue or binders, just pressure to shape them. They are REAL WOOD and accordingly come in many varieties; Oak, Hickory, Apple, Mesquite, Cherry, Alder..you get the point! You can even find them with ‘flavors’ added such as Garlic or Onion, however I prefer to control the spices I use by application of rubs, mops and sauces. As the actual logs would burn, so do the pellets…in other words, Oak burns hot and fast, ‘fruit woods’ not-so-much, etc. Wood pellet Grills are quite versatile and the air blowing into the fire pot that heats the stove creates a natural convection and even heating. You can use them to Grill, Smoke or Bake and the results will surprise you! A whole new dimension of flavor to dishes that you are used to coming off a gas grill for sure!
Another common method of cooking with wood is by using charcoal. Not Briquettes so much, but more commonly ‘Lump Charcoal’ which is actual wood and not highly processed. There are MANY ways to cook with charcoal from the good old Weber Kettle to the modern Ceramic Grill/Smokers that are commonly found in Green and Black colors. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. I would start by suggesting that when using lump charcoal, DO NOT use lighter fluid or for that matter, ANY form of ‘accelerant’ unless that’s all you wish to taste on your food! This is especially important when using ceramics into which any type of liquid accelerant will soak leaving you with a lifetime of ugly flavor. There are quite a variety of charcoal lighting tools available today from the common ‘chimney starter’ and ‘Hot Rod’ to the more recent hot air lighting devices. Cooking on charcoal requires some effort, but you are rewarded with a flavor that is unmistakably good! Like the wood pellet cookers, the Ceramic Charcoal units are well insulated and retain moisture quite well, so they can Grill, Smoke and Bake quite well!
If you’re looking to drop some BIG BUCKS and go with whole logs and real wood coals, there are a growing number of Freestanding Wood Grill manufacturers out there willing to take your money! It is the ultimate way to cook over an actual wood fire and typically has a suspended grill with a crank wheel to move the grill up and down so that you can control the heat and cooking process. This is the real deal and doesn’t deviate very much from the techniques used to cook over a camp fire. Although, the grills tend to be quite expensive and they do take some time to build up a solid base of ‘hot coals’ to cook on, so they may not be the most convenient! They are indeed crowd pleasers though both in appearance and taste!
SO…conveniently, if you are looking to learn more about Wood Fired Cooking at home, we are conducting a FREE workshop at our shop in Mechanicsburg next Wednesday night (July 16th) from 7pm until 10pm. We will review products with demo models for yo to see. We will also prepare and get to taste some wood fired goodies! You just bring yourself and a chair (and a beverage if you’d like) and we’ll do the rest…interacting with you and teaching you just how easy it is to cook over a wood fire. You can join the event on our FaceBook page (https://www.facebook.com/jaktzr#!/events/1509400672609054/) or E-Mail: Jim@GreatQ4U.com to reserve your spot! The workshop is no cost to you, but limited to 12 people with 4 alternates…so first come, first served! We also have scheduled some BBQ Classes for August and September on our website: http://www.greatq4u.com/BBQ_Classes.html if you’d like to go a bit further with your BBQ techniques!
So, either way…think about a wood fired grill at home and don’t hesitate to reach out f we can help! We’ve got a lot of Primo Ceramic and Myron Mixon Wood Pellet Grills in stock and are always willing to help!